MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Some exotic animals have found a new home in Minnesota.
Four wildcats were relocated after being surrendered by their owner.
"They deserve compassion and dignity," Wildcat Sanctuary executive directory Tammy Thies said. "Here at the sanctuary we can offer that."
The Wildcat Sanctuary offers a habitat 50 times the size of the wildcats' typical dwellings. Calcutta (a white Bengal tiger), Shadow (a black leopard), Caesar (a Bengal tiger) and Logan (a Siberian Bengal tiger) arrived Wednesday after a 20-hour car ride from New York.
They were surrendered by their owner after a four-year legal battle that received national attention.
The owner had a USDA license to own the cats for public viewing, which is legal in New York. But the township argued his backyard commercial business wasn't allowed under residential zoning laws. A New York Supreme Court judge sided with the township.
Thies said it's easier for residents to get away with keeping wild animals as pets by simply applying for the USDA permit, whether or not they are for commercial use.
"There are so many big cats, upwards of 7,000 tigers kept in private hands across the United States," she said. "These are the lucky few."
The other wildcats will be kept separate until they get used to their new home. Wildcat Sanctuary officials are hoping to raise enough money to build them a permanent 10,000 square foot habitat.
"Our goal would be to put ourselves out of business," Thies said. "We shouldn't have to rescue another tiger here around the U.S."
There are currently five states that allow residents to keep a wildcat as a pet. Wisconsin is one of them.
The Wildcat Sanctuary's rescues are entirely funded through donations. If you'd like to help, you can visit their website.
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